Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CLEAN 28: My Quarter-Life Crisis

This past weekend, a few friends and I headed over to Princeton for a quick detour before our apple-picking adventures. Truth be told, being on a college campus just made me feel old. It reminded me that I was no longer the bright eyed and bushy tailed 21-year-old that I was when I left Cal. In fact, I'm turning 28 next month and I can't help but feel like I'm going through a bit of a quarter-life crisis.

In the fall, leaves have a chance to change their whole appearance before turning a new leaf in the spring. I have adopted this mentality to try to get over my aging-anxieties. Earlier this month, I got an ombre. This was after 27 years of never having dyed my virgin hair (yes, that's a thing)! LOL. If that doesn't scream quarter-life crisis, I don't know what will. It felt like a step in the right direction.

Besides feeling the need to seize the moment and to live up my last few years of "youth", the voice in my head has also increased it's nagging. It wants me to take better care of my body. I've already told you about some fitness goals I have set for myself in 2014, but it's almost the end of the year and I don't feel like I've really achieved much at all.

I've been pretty flip-floppy with my overall diet, and lately have been craving and allowing myself to have more unhealthy foods than I would like. A cookie here and a bag of chips there might seem innocent once in a while. But when you forget how to say no, it has its multiplying effect. To ensure I don't snowball out of control over the holidays, I've decided to put myself on the Clean Cleanse for the next three weeks leading up to my birthday.

I'm calling this my CLEAN 28 challenge. I want to be the best and healthiest version of myself when I turn 28 next month!

There's 3 things I'm looking to fix in the next 21 days with the cleanse:

  1. Cut back on sugar cravings. I was able to make the claim a few years ago that I didn't have that much of a sweet tooth. However, I have noticed ever since my daily gelato binges in Italy, I have been wanting something sweet after most meals.
  2. Enable more portion control. Having done the cleanse in the past, I know I don't need to eat as much as I am eating now to feel satisfied. Lately, I have been eating like a monster.
  3. Feel less bloated. This one is self explanatory: I wanna look good on my birthday! Also it's pants season again and mine are feeling a little tight.

I did the Clean Cleanse earlier in January during the polar vortex and just found myself not wanting to eat salads and drink smoothies at all. Instead, I constantly carb-ed up on brown rice pasta more often than I would like to admit and kind of failed on the cleanse. Since it is a bit warmer this time around, I hope can manage the whole thing better and get better results in terms of weight loss.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, and hope to develop a few more CLEAN meals ideas to share with you all!

Curious about the Clean Cleanse? Learn the basics here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to Survive a New York Winter { A Californian's Guide }

Winter is coming...

I don't mean to get all Game on Thrones on you, but the thought of a New York Winter can be really daunting to someone who has never really been through a real winter. Before moving to New York, all my "winter" clothes were cute jackets and boots that helped me look on trend with the season but not to shield me from cold harsh winter. Why I thought I needed gloves living in the Bay Area, I will never know.

Having survived 3 New York winters and the Polar Vortex now, I feel like I need to help fellow winter newbies out. It's not all snowflakes and hot coco, guys. Here's my list of Winter Essentials that might seem like common sense to those who know, but a complete mystery for those who don't.

1. Long Puffy Jackets. Okay, this first one is obvious. But it's the details that matter the most.
  • First, you MUST get a jacket that will cover your bum. Short jackets might be cute, but you need a long one so that you're not freezing your ass off (as much).
  • Windproof is essential. On snowy days, it's not the temperature that's going to get you, it's the wind speed.
  • Waterproof, because when snow hits you on a warm-ish day, it turns into water.
  • A hood, 50% of your body heat escapes from your head when it's not covered. COVER IT!
  • Bonus points if there is a scrunchy sleeve where your hand is so wind doesn't travel upwards.
  • Popular winter jackets brands: Zara, Canadian Goose (pricey), North Face, Woolrich.
  • If you're getting a wool jacket for winter, make sure you check the % of wool it is on the tag. The higher the percentage, the warmer you'll be.

2. Snow boots w/ warm socks. When it's snowing outside, your regular boots aren't going to cut it. Please don't end up in this Huffington Post roundup, "These Photos Of New Yorkers Slipping And Falling On Fifth Avenue Will Make You Want To Stay Inside".
  • Wellington boots such as Hunters are a super popular option for snow boots because it has great grip and usually made with one piece of rubber so that there are no leaks. Most of my friends in NY own Hunters and it's what I've been using for the past 3 years.
  • Sorel has been making really great snow boots and they look more like a regular boot so would be great for every day wear. 
  • Keep in mind that a day of snow turns into a week of ankle-deep slush. Also, most sidewalks are covered in salt to help melt snow and therefore your cute leather boots will definitely get ruined in this lethal combo.
  • Speaking of footwear, Hunters makes very cute fleece socks that lines their boots for those extra cold days. Thin ski socks are also great to help you keep warm on regular days.
  • Don't wait until it snows to buy boots. Friends from last winter waited too long and couldn't find any weather appropriate shoes ANYWHERE, not online, not in stores. You've been warned.

3. Uniqlo Heat Tech Everything! There will be days where you want to layer up on pants, and the leggings from Uniqlo goes great under jeans. It's thin enough to not feel bulky under anything you wear, but it really does work to add some extra warmth to your outfit. Consider buying some camis, long sleeve shirts, etc etc.

4. Gloves w/ Touch Screen. You need directions, but you have gloves on. Should you... take off your glove and freeze, or just buy a pair of gloves that allows you to use your touch screen phone. This one is a no brainer. As an alternative, I've also found success in mittens that opens up to fingerless gloves. BTW, mittens are great because you can use body heat to warm your fingers with its neighbor. 

5. Hats w/ Ear Cover. When J first bought me a Woolrich Aviator hat, I laughed at him. Like, silly J, why would I ever wear a hat like that? And then winter came, like real winter (not the wimpy winter we had in 2011 and 2012), and I wore that hat every day. It kept my head and ears warm, I was such a happy camper. Who's laughing now? If this winter is going to be anything like last year's, this is a must.

6. Wool Infinity Scarfs. The bigger the better. Even better if you can cover your face with it, because there will be days where you want to be walking around Manhattan like a ninja, everything covered except for your eyes. That's how you will keep the warmest.

What are some of your Winter Essentials? Any tips for our winter newbies out there?

Friday, October 17, 2014

NYC: Le Bernardin, a Seafood Chef's Tasting

First, how beautiful and delicious does this caviar and king fish dish look? As if caviar on top of a fresh piece of sashimi wasn't good enough, Le Bernardin adds to the decadence of it all by completing the dish with a lovely marinière sauce (think butter + shallots). After I was done savoring every bite of the dish, I continued to eat every ounce of that sauce on the plate with bread as my vehicle of choice.

Oops, is that not appropriate behavior at a 3-Michelin star restaurant? #noshame here ... I swear the Saucier who makes these drops of heaven is really the one who helped Le Bernardin secure their final 3rd star. Because. ALL the sauces of the night just helped elevate the dishes from good to great, and prompted me to virtually "lick" all my plates clean (with bread).

Anyway, back to the beginning. A few months ago, J's parents came to visit NYC and since Le Bernardin was on the top of our lists of places to go in 2014, we decided to make it an occasion for a nice meal together. As it turns out, this was the perfect choice for a wonder 3-Michelin star place for them to try.
It begins with the amuse bouche, my favorite was the soup. I wonder how I can make soup like that at home, I just wanted to drink endless amounts of it, a tiny cup was just not enough.

At Le Bernardin, you have the choice of a 4-course prix fixe ($135), a 7-course Le Bernardin Tasting ($155), or the more expensive 8-course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($198). From what I understand, it doesn't seem like the menu changes much at all. I'm looking at the menu again six months later and it's exactly the same.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roasted Pepper and Caramelized Onion Confit

For the past few weeks, I've been getting tons of red peppers and onions from my CSA and have been trying to figure out what to do with them. When I came across this recipe for a confit of pepper and onions, I knew I had myself a winner. The ingredient list was short, the cooking method was relatively easy and it served multiple purposes so that I wouldn't have to eat too many meals of the same thing.
You can use this confit on top of crusty bread. In an omelette. Add it on top of a protein. In a sandwich. Mixed into pasta sauce. Pretty much anything you might put caramelized onions on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Best Bites of Italy: Rome, Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre

I love all Italian food - pastas, pizzas and gelato - oh my! So imagine my pure bliss during the ten days J and I spent eating our way through Italy!

I've been asked what my food recommendations are for these cities, so I've consolidated all of those here in this Best Bites of Italy series. In this edition, we'll be looking at Rome, Venice, Florence and Cinque Terre. I've also include links to each of my blog post elaborating on why each place was so awesome!